The Academy, Manchester, Fri 30th January 2009 (1/2/09)

Matthew Millington:

This review may be slightly unusual in that it was my first, but not the last HMHB gig I attended. What a stormer. Top class in every way. I won't even begin to recite the playlist as too much ale was consumed. I started the night by purchasing a couple of CDs which went into my inside pocket (I'd be lost without one) which, after the final half hour in the moshpit, the casing of Trouble over Bridgwater broke, stabbing me just above the diaphragm. That misfortune did nothing to spoil my evening. I confess to being a re-born fan having first sampled as a teenager the unbridled joy of DHSS etc. The way the band have grown-up is reminiscent I suppose of my own coming of age, and their maturity musically is there for all to see. Gone is the aggression replaced by an almost maudlin acceptance of the eccentricity of English folk and the state of the nation. During the last 5 years or so I have caught up with the last 23 years and that in itself was a journey. Okay, back to the gig. It was great to see that not only like me, the majority of fans were the white middle-aged pot-bellied receding blokes from all corners of the North, but also the odd bird, and a young man or two.

Okay, this would probably not be a review without an attempt at a playlist, but I can't do an order, I'll leave that to the pros. Can I just say that Manchester's integrated transport system is very dodgy. Can you believe that between Old Trafford and Salford I coudn't find a curry house anywhere. Mmmmm. So it was the local Subway drive-in walk-to. A ham salad sandwich with sweet onion relish, washed down with a Scotch and 7-up back at the hotel.